By on February 1, 2019

2018 Accord Sport 2.0-Liter Turbo - Image: Honda

Of all the automakers populating this vast land, none display quite same the level of guarded optimism for the passenger car’s future as Toyota. Two years ago, if you recall, it boldly declared that its new Camry might save the midsize sedan segment. Well, there’s now a new entry in the rose-colored glasses race.

Honda feels that public distrust in the ability of a four-door sedan to carry occupants to their intended destination has pretty much bottomed out.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Henio Arcangeli, senior vice president of automotive operations for Honda Motor Co.’s U.S. unit, said he’s confident the segment’s rapid slump is near an end.

“We think we’re getting close to the limit in terms of the percentage mix of light trucks versus cars, which is very close to that 70-30 mix,” he said. “At least in the near term, that’s probably the limit.”

The industry’s 2018 sales results showed consumers heading to trucks, crossovers, and SUVs in ever greater numbers, with the split being 31 percent cars, 69 percent light trucks. December’s results showed an even more lopsided result, with cars falling to 28 percent of the market.

Still, despite an OEM exodus from the car market that started with Fiat Chrysler and more recently ensnared Ford and General Motors, one projection suggests a stabilization is on our doorstep. LMC Automotive forecasts an evening out in the car slump after about 2021, with the car segment still topping pickup trucks in terms of volume as far in the future as 2025. IHS Markit’s projections clash with Honda’s optimism, however, as the firm anticipates a light truck take rate of 75 percent by 2023.

Last year, sales of Honda cars sank 9 percent, with Acura’s car volume declining by 9.5 percent. Meanwhile, light truck sales rose 3.6 percent at the big H and 8.4 percent at Acura.

Last month’s sales tally shows no signs of a change of heart among the buying public, with sales of Honda cars falling 1 percent in January, year over year. Acura cars sank 11.7 percent.

One thing Honda has going for it is a still-popular — and very diverse — Civic line. Last year saw the automaker add a new Insight premium hybrid sedan to its stable, joining the Clarity line in the company’s green wing and further bolstering its car selection. It remains to be seen whether future domestic car buyers, stymied in their bid for a new Cruze or Focus, will instead head to a Japanese brand for the closest alternative.

[Image: Honda]

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41 Comments on “Honda’s Starting to Sound a Lot like Toyota...”


  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I am still a Honda believer, and feel the Civic/Accord are still easily the best buys in their segments.

    Yes Mazdas look way better, but I’m not convinced on the driving dynamics, and they are slow. VW has the speed and build quality, but they are as boring looking as Hondas are ugly, while also being a lot less reliable. Everyone else is some combo of less reliable and worse to drive.

    People talk about Mazda being the enthusiast brand… I just don’t see it. Civic Sport, Si & Type R, Accord Sport 2.0T with 3 pedals, the Fit, the Odyssey being regarded as the “driver’s minivan” etc. Honda is holding it down for drivers without tooting its own horn.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree with you that Honda’s entries in the key car segments are class leading. I would dispute that Mazda’s are slow for main market. The new 3 is more powerful than a standard Civic. The 6 is as powerful as the standard Accord. Sure there should be a more powerful 3 in the future and I would love the turbo 2.5 to go in it. The Skyactiv X may meaningfully break 200 for torque. We will see.
      Mazda’s drive as well if bit better than the competing Honda’s. They look better inside and out and are if higher material quality inside. You really cannot go wrong with either company. Unless you are in the minority of buyers who want higher performance – which I totally get as I am very impressed by the Type R, if only the exterior was better – then the Mazda is a viable option too.
      Also recall that Mazda define driving dynamics as more than outright speed, and they have the MX5 as a sub 6 second vehicle, no-one can really call that slow.

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        I agree that Mazda designs look good and initial interior quality appears better, but when I stop into my local used car dealer and sit in a 3 year old mazda, I find the interiors do not age well, and appear flimsy. Granted these are not the high up models, usually mid grade or lower, I find myself disappointed.

        I still drive my 2007 Accord manual with 203,000 miles and my 2008 CRV with 191,000 miles. I can shop online and find plenty of used Hondas with over 200,000 miles. A search of Mazda’s come up short on longevity like a Toyota or Honda.

        • 0 avatar
          psychoboy

          My 253k 2006 4cyl 5spd Accord LX coupe is still doing the job every single day. Sure, it looks like crap, because I bought it totaled out of a salvage yard, but it still looks like the same $2000 crap it looked like when I got it. I’ve put a starter, a battery, gas, and oil in it over the last 75k miles / 6 years.

          Between it and the 305k mile 97 CRV that I’m intentionally driving into the ground as a packmule for home renovation, I’ll gladly trade longevity for styling.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “VW has the speed and build quality, but they are as boring looking as Hondas are ugly”

      I can’t disagree-but that’s a benefit with respect to the GTI/R.

      Here’s a comparo test I’d like to see: GTI vs CTR, 500 mile road trip, who gets there first and who gets there with the least in fines/license points.

      As for reliability, the 2016 and up Golf family seems to have finally gotten it right. What’s worrisome is that they’ll screw that up when the Mark 8 hits.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        jalop1991,

        tell me in 2026 if VW finally got it right.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        FWIW I had an 07 Rabbit and outside of a dead vacuum pump it was problem free. But I know someone who had an 07 GTI who had nothing but problems. German cars seem to be 50/50 like that.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        IIRC, C&D had a GTI-vs.-CTR comparo, which the Civic won.

        But a road trip, “who gets the least points” deal, might be fun, especially if done in the spirit of the great tests of yore, like their Mexico jaunt with the Dodge 600 and Poncho 6000 STE, or their recent story of the quest to bring a passel of Geo Metros bought from a single owner on the list of Craig back to Michigan for their last hurrahs before their final trip (including the “winning” car, which went 40 feet over a cliff to its demise).

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        jalop1991,

        I did not get to drive the Passat. Why would I if it has no manual version? But here is what C&D says about it: “…solid road manners”. And here what is says about Mazda6: “It also drives exceedingly well, with smooth handling and fluid moves”. Passat ranked #8 and ‘6 #2.

        My understanding of how car drives could be different. I see it as summary action of steering, clutch, brake, gear shifter, accelerator, etc. I like linear nature of Mazda brake and accelerator. I recently drove Mustang GT. In it, you touch brake pedal and it bites. Also, steering seem precise but feels artificial. So, I just can phrase Mazda on their tuning of the Mazda6. There are no complaints about operation feel of this car. I can’t say, it is almost good because something is not so good. All controls are exceptional. Hard to beat a car that has all controls so good.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      sportyaccordy,

      I drove ’17 Accord Sport. So what if it has 3 pedals? You can’t reach that stick shift. Where is ergonomics in that car? Mazda6 was such contrast – made for driver. Same size car but everything is at your fingertip.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I haven’t driven a stickshift Honda lately, but I’ve driven most of the new ones and haven’t had any issues with ergonomics. Could just be you, or could just be your pro Mazda bias.

        • 0 avatar

          You are both wrong. Fusion is better than either even without stick. There is a third pedal, it just does not move.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Car And Driver ranks Fusion #11 in sedan rankings with this comment:

            “While the Sport model has athletic handling and the most powerful engine, it’s still less engaging to drive than rivals that rank much higher on this list.”

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          My pro-Mazda bias is a myth you can’t give up. I test all cars but end up with Mazda for one reason – it drives better that whatever it competes against (VW is not in contention) for that year.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            well, since Mazda competes with VW, how can you simply dismiss VW? Just to say that “well, it drives better than any other car”?

            We know it fails against the VW in that regard. The VW drives better.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Honda is also the most expensive eeconomy car you can buy. Performance is just not there for the premium.

  • avatar
    wooootles

    In my opinion driving dynamics is overrated. Not everyone has access to canyon roads/backroads, even less people track the cars, but the majority of customers is able to tap into a vehicle’s power in everyday routines/commutes.

    Back to the main topic though, my parents has an RDX, my sister, her husband and their parents have Hondas, my relatives have had Civics and Accords… A good amount of my friends have Accords/CR-Vs… a good amount of people close to me just seem to swear by them.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Agreed, back to the main topic. Have bda is correct that the car market won’t fall much further. Nevermore be personal preference, price comes into it and cars are cheaper than the equivalent CUV. That price difference will ensure a continued market for cars. The consolidation that has happened (with FCA and now the other donestics dripping out) will ensure continued volumes for Honda, Toyota etc. This happened in other declining segments like minivans, which also plateaued out.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      “In my opinion driving dynamics is overrated”

      For sure… and as someone who tracks their car I’d go so far to say that even people that think their car handles well have likely not pushed it hard enough to really feel things out. For example before I tracked my 350Z I though it was quick and nimble with a tendency to oversteer. But after just one track day I knew it actually understeered and had too much body roll, plus kind of sluggish. It took different tires and sway bars to really get the handling sorted. Then it was neutral and super predictable but too harsh. Still lots of fun and responsive, those impressions carried over from street to track.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      I used to swear by Hondas, and by American Honda. Then the economy crashed, they pulled back completely on their goodwill warranty, and screwed me on the van transmission–the very transmission that they had spent the previous 8 or so years replacing at the drop of a hat, tacitly acknowledging that it was a bad unit.

      Now I swear at American Honda, and tell the story at every opportunity here 10 years later. The world is too full of good cars to think I need a Honda. But then you add in that with my Odyssey and how Honda dealt with it, I might as well have bought a Chrysler. So why not try out the rest of the world?

      VW has done me well so far with the GTI. I went into it with eyes wide open, figuring how much worse could the ownership experience be compared to what I came to realize Honda is. And frankly, the car is a hoot and a half. The other side of this is, I needed an automatic trans–something that Si/CTR doesn’t offer at all. And frankly, the DSG is WAY better than anything else.

      Now, should American Honda build the ILX with CTR running gear and a DCT of some kind, maybe even AWD, I would take a strong look. But their treatment of me and the way it all came down is still, 10 years later, fresh in my mind.

      • 0 avatar
        wooootles

        @jalop1991 American Honda might not even remember they offer the ILX.

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        Today in my short drive I saw 4-5 2002-2004 Odysseys. My local used car outlet has 3 in stock one with 320,000 miles, and another with 317,000 miles. Still appear to be cost effective to own in Minnesota.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I’m kind of fascinated by the phenomenon as well. IIRC most of the ones I see are the later years, as you note the ’02-’04 with amber rear turn signal lenses. There are a boatload on the local facebook marketplace with 200k+ miles. I’ve heard that some of the later refurb transmissions finally fixed things, I also had a friend that gone one cheap from family with a whining transmission, he decided to keep driving it until it failed and then deal with it, well it’s been whining but hanging in there for years now.

          • 0 avatar
            psychoboy

            At this point, if a glass-trans Odyssey is still on the road, the trans has either been swapped with the improved reman, or it has failed as far as it’s going to….and it’ll never quite die.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        My friend’s dealership just took in two Honda Odyssey’s with bad transmissions and non working A/C. And one of them has inop power sliding doors according to a note taped to the window. Nothing new here. I have even heard complaints on the newer ones with the 9 speed regarding shift quality but haven’t heard anything regarding the 10 speed higher trim levels.

        My high school buddy recently bought a 2018 Pilot EX AWD and picked me up the other night for a long overdue reunion. We spoke for an hour about it during dinner. I was surprised at how much road noise it generated and his complaints were not great fuel economy with the trip computer saying it was averaging 19.1 in combined driving, a sometimes clunky transmission and a buggy lag with the touch screen that the dealer still hasn’t corrected. The issues Honda has been having with the 1.5T and the fact i don’t care for CVT’s would hold me back on the Accord and Civic even though I like these cars better than the Camry and Corolla

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    while the Accord styling appeals to me , the Civic really needs a mid cycle refresh for it’s rump. The new Mazda 3 is handsome, and looks like it could be a Lancia

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      The back end of the Honda Insight is a much more attractive than the back end of the Honda Civic and they share a platform and a lot of parts. Maybe Honda could use the Insight body minus the hybrid drivetrain and just call it the Civic sedan.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I hate honda for their gauge clusters, drive selectors and packaging. And now I started to hate mazda for their packaging.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    For me, as I’ve stated in other Comments threads for other entries, I’m now into my almost twenty-fifth year of Honda ownership, and by now, I’m used to some of the idiosyncrasies common to vehicles of the brand. And despite my pearl-clutching about the “turbofication” of the Accord so hard they should be diamonds, I’ll be taking my chances with an Accord 2.0T Touring (or Hybrid Touring, if the couple-day test of one I’m scheduling leaves me wanting). There’s not another brand that has the same kind of value and overall competency than Honda. (And that’s despite the failure of the transmission on my 2000 Accord V6, which was replaced with no pushback. The 2013 Accord Touring has been far and away the best car I’ve ever owned, and hopefully my next one will be better yet.)

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      That your trans failed on your 2000 Accord V6 isn’t what’s important; it’s how American Honda responded that’s important.

      Back then, they were falling all over themselves to replace those transmissions for FREE.

      Then the economy crashed in 2008, and American Honda pulled ALL the way back on their goodwill warranties–including on those known glass transmissions.

      Screw American Honda. It’s a big world out there. And in fact, in Honda’s sweet spot, Toyota likely has a better product–especially when it comes to taking care of the customer.

      • 0 avatar
        psychoboy

        I was super appreciative of how Toyota treated me when my wife’s 06 TC pulled the headbolts out of the block due to gross mis-manufacturing:

        They blamed me for overheating the motor (which we didn’t), and refused to even acknowledge the existence of their own TSB for the known issue in that era TC, Camry, and RAV4.

        I bought the TimeSert kit, followed the TSB instructions, and did the whole job in my garage. Screw those guys.

    • 0 avatar
      ABC-2000

      I had a 2014 accord sport and a 2016 EX, I was not crazy about any of them but now, I took delivery of a 2018 EX-L 2.0T 10 speed and I love it, it’s very different from the old model and the engine is really powerful, the only problem is MPG, very far from the old 2.4L.

  • avatar
    jatz

    “That your trans failed on your 2000 Accord V6 isn’t what’s important”

    I’d say sgeffe has the right of rebuttal on that one.

    • 0 avatar
      johnds

      My 1999 Accord V6 went 253,000 miles on the original transmission. We also had a 1998 Accord LX and traded it at 20 years 192,000 miles. Original transmission.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        My Dad had a 1999 Accord V6 which also had a faultless transmission, second year of that generation. (The 1998 Accords didn’t have folding side mirrors, but the other four years did, the 6th-Gen being the first Accord to be built on a five-year cycle.)

        It wasn’t a certainty that a V6-powered Honda of that era would lunch its transmission, but the failure rate was much, much higher than normal. Even the early 7th-Gen Accord V6s had problems, but by the second year of that generation, 2004, they were OK.

        None of the transmissions on four-pot models had huge failure rates, IIRC.

        • 0 avatar
          mittencuh

          The 1998s and 1999s seemed to have better luck with transmissions. My 1999 V6 had 270k and no issues with the transmission at all. My aunt worked for Honda at the time and said the 2000 model year was when the transmission issues really started to come out en masse.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Yeah, well I had a Ford 2.9 V6 that went 400k on its original cylinder heads and head gaskets…doesn’t mean nobody else was blowing steam out the tailpipe.

  • avatar
    CarrollGardener

    My 2006 Accord V6 6-speed manual sedan for the win.


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